© The Financial Times Ltd 2016
FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
The Financial Times and its journalism are subject to a self-regulation regime under the FT Editorial Code of Practice.
April 29, 2011 10:13 pm
Chasing the Devil: On Foot Through Africa’s Killing Fields, by Tim Butcher, Vintage, RRP£8.99, 336 pages
In 1989, Charles Taylor toppled the despotic Samuel Doe in Liberia, installing his own anarchic regime whose brutality quickly spilled over into Sierra Leone.
War correspondent Tim Butcher reported on the atrocities from the relative safety of Freetown, but in 2009 he returned to explore the previously inaccessible hinterland. His 350-mile trek to the Liberian coast from Freetown follows Graham Greene’s Journey Without Maps (1935), his stately expedition with 26 porters.
Butcher’s travelogue is a mix of nervous adventuring through a landscape littered with shell casings, and historical assessment peppered with Greeniana. He ponders “the central role played by devils in tribal society” and considers topics from female circumcision and Chinese investment to blood diamonds. What he finds are animist subsistence farmers living in abject poverty in “one of the world’s most failed and scarred states”. Sobering and illuminating.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.